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  1. #1
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    Stiff Shoes Advice

    I was talking to my FIL about doing my century and we started talking shoes. I have known that having a stiffer shoe really helps but he says it is a tremendous difference. OK, sounds good. I use toe cages. Any suggestions on stiff shoes that I can actually get off the bike and walk (a bit) in?

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    What's your budget? How stiff do you need?

    Mountain bike shoes are designed so you can walk around in them (as opposed to road shoes, which aren't). Higher-end models can have very stiff soles.

    You might also look at Shimano's "mountain touring" shoes (models start with MT-). They look more like regular hiking shoes. The soles aren't super stiff, but they're probably good enough for a century. I wore my MT-31s when I rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I installed a thicker insole before leaving. They were fine for the first 4-5 days (~70 mi/day). After that, I started to get hot spots after 4-5 hours of riding. Next time, I'll use a stiffer shoe. Perhaps my Specialized BG Comp MTB shoes or maybe their new Tahoe Sport shoe. The MT31s were fine for walking 5-6 miles around Hearst Castle, BTW.

  3. #3
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    No idea on budget as I don't know the basic costs of these things. Using what you mentioned I'll certainly look some up.

    I don't need to get off the bike and go hiking so I'll just get basic "get off the bike and walk into a store to get a drink or something" type shoes.

    I will look into the shoes you mentioned, thanks for the point.

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    I use regular SPD shoes without cleats. Wouldn't want to walk a long distance, but they're fine for going into a store or restaurant.

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    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
    I use regular SPD shoes without cleats. Wouldn't want to walk a long distance, but they're fine for going into a store or restaurant.
    Is SPD a brand?

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    Brain in a Jar Evil Mastermind's Avatar
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    I've got a pair of DZR shoes that ought to arrive today. Reports say that they are more stiff than regular shoes, but work okay for walking around. They have a recessed section where the SPD (type of clipless attachment point) clip goes. Will let you know once I try them out.

    Other brands that I've considered are Chrome, Five Ten, Specialized. Probably lots more out there, too. It's likely a personal preference thing, but I wanted a shoe that looks like a shoe and not a spaceship. Of course I'm rolling slow on a hybrid, too. As with nearly everything, YMMV.

    Edit: I think I saw that the Five Ten brand has mountain bike shoes without SPD, made for platform pedals and so might work with your cages if you don't want to screw with new pedals on top of new shoes.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CJ C's Avatar
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    the make some tennis/gym shoes specifically for commuters and fixie riders. Chrome bag company has some. also Keen makes some stiff soled sandals that allow for spd clips too.

  8. #8
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Mastermind View Post
    I've got a pair of DZR shoes that ought to arrive today. Reports say that they are more stiff than regular shoes, but work okay for walking around. They have a recessed section where the SPD (type of clipless attachment point) clip goes. Will let you know once I try them out.

    Other brands that I've considered are Chrome, Five Ten, Specialized. Probably lots more out there, too. It's likely a personal preference thing, but I wanted a shoe that looks like a shoe and not a spaceship. Of course I'm rolling slow on a hybrid, too. As with nearly everything, YMMV.

    Edit: I think I saw that the Five Ten brand has mountain bike shoes without SPD, made for platform pedals and so might work with your cages if you don't want to screw with new pedals on top of new shoes.
    Excellent, keep us updated on the DZR's.

  9. #9
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJ C View Post
    the make some tennis/gym shoes specifically for commuters and fixie riders. Chrome bag company has some. also Keen makes some stiff soled sandals that allow for spd clips too.
    I have some Keen sandals now, love them. I'll check them out.

  10. #10
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WonderMonkey View Post
    Is SPD a brand?
    SPD is the designation for Shimano's version of mountain bike shoes/pedals/cleats. On most shoes, the cleats are recessed below a lugged sole so you don't have to duck-walk on pavement. Don't confuse them with SPD-SL which is the designation for Shimano's road shoes/cleats/pedals, which are much more like the Look delta-style cleat that is not recessed and is therefore problematic for walking, to one degree or another.
    Craig in Indy

  11. #11
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    If you just wanted a stiff shoe but used toe cages would there be a problem with getting SPD's?

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    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WonderMonkey View Post
    If you just wanted a stiff shoe but used toe cages would there be a problem with getting SPD's?
    No, virtually every shoe manufacturer makes SPD-compatible shoes (those shoes that are compatible with 2-hole cleats). These shoes allow the cleat to be recessed for mountain biking and cyclocross. This will give you the option of going clipless at some point in the future. These "mountain bike" shoes range from slightly stiff to road-shoe stiff with everything in between. Go shopping and check them out!
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  13. #13
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    No, virtually every shoe manufacturer makes SPD-compatible shoes (those shoes that are compatible with 2-hole cleats). These shoes allow the cleat to be recessed for mountain biking and cyclocross. This will give you the option of going clipless at some point in the future. These "mountain bike" shoes range from slightly stiff to road-shoe stiff with everything in between. Go shopping and check them out!
    To build on this, what probably still needs to be said is that even if you buy an SPD-compatible shoe, there's nothing that says you have to install a cleat on it in the first place. I wouldn't recommend a road shoe without a cleat, as the soles are smooth and slippery, but a lug-soled mountain bike shoe is fine. Just because it's designed to accept a cleat doesn't mean you have to use one. And as rdtompki said, it then gives you the option of going to cleats at a later date. You're not even out any extra money, as the cleats are never included with the shoe purchase.
    Craig in Indy

  14. #14
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I've had a 5 mile "walk of shame" in these.http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...04_-1___202526 They do feel like you're walking uphill. I don't know were they fit on the stiffy scale. I got them as the reviews were really good on several sites and they have sizes to fit my size 14 (48) feet.

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    Stiffness in the shoe refers mostly to the sole. A stiff sole would bend/flex less during the pedal stroke therefore most of the power transfers to the pedals. The idea of cleats vs toe cages is to improve the engagement of the foot in the "pull" phase of the pedal stroke as it eliminates the flex of the cages and the play between the shoe and the cage.

    SPD-SL vs. SPD. While you could "walk a bit" in spd-sl shoes (there are covers for the cleats and they have tiny rubber heels) i'd say it is very uncomfortable at best and flat out dangerous at worst. Can find stiff sole mountain shoes (spd) but the same thing as the previous comment would apply. I think removing the flex in the sole is good for cycling but it makes regular walking dangerous.

    Best bet would be rubber sole mountain shoes (spd) and cleats. It engages the foot in the "pull" phase of the pedal stroke better than your current cages (there is no cage play/flex). Less things to tangle around. Looks simpler, cleaner design. And it will allow you to walk comfortably and much safer as the cleats are recessed in the sole of the shoe.

    I think SPD are more budget friendly than SPD SL (obviously depending on choices). As far as using shoes without the cleats i don't think the sole material/flex would be of much impact by itself.

    Regular shoe/platform pedal>>>biggest improvement>>>regular shoe/toe cages>>OK improvement>>any bike shoe/cleat combination>marginal improvement>stiff sole bike shoe/cleat combination
    Last edited by Acquaspin; 07-07-12 at 06:56 AM. Reason: missing word

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acquaspin View Post
    SPD-SL vs. SPD. While you could "walk a bit" in spd-sl shoes (there are covers for the cleats and they have tiny rubber heels) i'd say it is very uncomfortable at best and flat out dangerous at worst. Can find stiff sole mountain shoes (spd) but the same thing as the previous comment would apply. I think removing the flex in the sole is good for cycling but it makes regular walking dangerous.
    "Dangerous" is a bit of an exaggeration, in my opinion. I've walked for at least a mile in my Specialized BG Comp mountain bike shoes without any problems. The sole is stiff enough that I wouldn't want to go for a 10- or 20-mile hike in them, but they have enough traction that you're unlikely to fall over, twist an ankle, or otherwise injure yourself.

  17. #17
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I have the Keen Commuter sandals I found on sale for $60.00. I do not use them with cleats, I just use them with regular pedals or my power grips on my hybrid bike. I like them a lot and they are easy to walk around in. I have no desire for clipless on my hybrid bike, just one more thing to worry about.


  18. #18
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, all. I'm going to stick with my cages for a while but will enjoy the ability to upgrade to them if I decided to "down the road". I'm sure I'll still see a good bit of benefit from just the stiffer soled shoe.

    I'm also going to go higher pressure and a slicker tire as well but I'll get he shoes first.

  19. #19
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    sidi makes great shoes and they have a "mega" wide fit that I use.

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    One other thought. Look into "Touring" shoes. They have recessed areas for SPD cleats but do not have the big lugs on them. Kinda look like a cross between a MTB shoe and a road shoe. May work better than the big lugs in toe cages. I was going to get some before buying my Specialized Comp MTB shoes. The Specs are available in wide widths. I need the width for my left foot.

    I think Specialized and Shimano both offer touring shoes.

    Mark Shuman

  21. #21
    Senior Member marmot's Avatar
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    I have Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek (SPD) shoes, and they offer a great combination of stiffness, comfort and walkability. The manufacturer calls them trail runners, which is a bit optimistic IMO, but they are just fine for walking distances and all-day wear. Sometimes, I don't bother changing after a ride and just wear the Pearls for the rest of the day.
    Last edited by marmot; 07-14-12 at 01:33 PM.

  22. #22
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    I use a stiff pair of tennis specific shoes(Nike) for spin class and riding a bike I have with cages,all regular riding shoes are carbon soles.
    Last edited by gabkr; 07-14-12 at 02:25 PM. Reason: spelling

  23. #23
    Brain in a Jar Evil Mastermind's Avatar
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    So today was the first time out with my clipless pedals and my new DZR mamba x shoes. The shoes are definitely more stiff than my usual Adidas, they fit well and seem to offer some nice ankle support and minor padding. This model has a velcro flap that keeps the shoelaces well contained and away from any moving bits. As far as using the clips, it felt natural to "chunk" my foot onto the clip, and since I had take the precaution of loosening the clip tension completely there were no issues with staying bound to the pedals for dismount. It just took an easy twist of the ankle to unclip. After riding to university I walked for short distances, crossing campus and also up and down some flights of stairs: no troubles getting around on foot. Finally, since the shoes do not look like spaceships, I felt comfortable in my appearance. Actually I think they are kind of cool, and look forward to taking them out tomorrow and so on.

    Hope this info helps!

  24. #24
    Junior Member jimcander's Avatar
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    I have gone the toe cage/Specialized MTB show w/ SPD/Diadora with Speedplay route. Gotta say, that I love the road shoe and the speedplay. Only walking I will do is from the car to the bike... or a quick pitstop somewhere but I have a couple of metric centuries under my belt and it's time for my statute century and I wouldn't dream of doing it in the MTB shoes...

  25. #25
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    I appreciate the information from everyone. Next week I will re-read all this and go try on some at a few different LBS's.

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